Jury Delivers Elder Abuse Verdict—Nursing Home to Pay $1.1 Million for Wrongful Death

As Washington D.C. Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys, we have been following a recent case of elder abuse, where a Sacramento County Superior Court jury found a nursing home guilty for the 2005 wrongful death of a Northern California resident.

Frances Tanner, a former administrative worker who had been employed by various agencies including the FBI and the IRS, reportedly moved into Colonial Healthcare, a nursing home in Auburn, California, in March of 2005 at the age of 79. Although she was suffering from mild dementia, Tanner was reportedly mobile, strong, talkative and in great spirits.

In September of 2005, Tanner suffered a nursing home fall and broke her hip. According to the lawsuit testimony, Tanner was not properly diagnosed with a hip fracture for another eight days, during which time a bed sore was discovered. After the surgery, the bed sore progressed rapidly, and Tanner reportedly died a few weeks later from a massive infection of the pressure sore that caused her great pain and suffering.

During the course of past two weeks, the home has been accused of poor care, chronic and extreme understaffing, and nursing home corporation greed. Colonial was accused of recklessly failing to care for Tanner in every way—by allowing her to endure a broken hip, failing to keep accurate notes on her treatment and care, and neglecting to prevent or care for the bed sore that allegedly killed her.

Today, the jury awarded Elizabeth Pao, Tanner’s daughter, $1.1 million in monetary damages for Tanner’s suffering and pain, and for the loss of companionship. The punitive damages will be announced on Thursday.

Horizon West Healthcare, Colonial Healthcare’s (now Hilltop Manor) parent company, owns 33 nursing homes that are mainly in Northern California, and reportedly has had a long history of problems with state regulators. According to the Sacramento Bee, in 2006, the State Department of Public Health gave the home the most severe penalty possible—two Class AA citations for the death of two patients. Last year, after another nursing home resident death, it received another Class AA citation. The state reportedly issued a Class B penalty in the Tanner case, citing lapses in nursing home care that created a threat to the nursing home resident’s health and safety.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the state moved to revoke the nursing home’s license, but came to an agreement and allowed the nursing home to remain open. Under the agreement terms, Colonial reportedly agreed to meet the minimum staffing requirements of at least 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day. The Auburn nursing home’s records show that during Tanner’s time living in the home, the home only met that health care standard 24 percent of the time. For every 40-45 dementia residents, there was reportedly only one licensed nurse.

If a Washington D.C. resident in a nursing home becomes injured or dies because the nursing home failed to protect the health and safety of the resident, the facility could be held liable for nursing home negligence or wrongful death. Our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers represent victims and their families in Maryland and Washington D.C. that wish to recover personal injury compensation from nursing home negligence and harm. Contact us today.

Jury Returns Million-Dollar Elder Abuse Verdict Against Auburn Nursing Home, The Modesto Bee, May 12, 2010
Auburn Nursing Home Again Under Scrutiny in Civil Trial over Death, Sacramento Bee, May 12, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Foundation Aiding the Elderly, (FATE)

National Center on Elder Abuse, (NCEA)

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